Fedora Wayland update

So our team here at Red Hat have been working intensively with our counterparts at Intel to merge and stabilize the patches to enable Wayland support in GNOME and at the same time looking into what further improvements are needed in the stack. Enabling Wayland support means essentially turning the GNOME Shell into a Wayland compositor as we are not going to be using the sample compositor Weston. Porting to Wayland isn’t just about replacing X calls with Wayland calls, in many cases there is also functionality that was in X that will be done as a separate library for use with Wayland or settings that used to be handled by X that now needs to be stored elsewhere. The development work is starting to come together now and tarballs are being released with initial Wayland support or core modules such as Mutter.

The goal we are still pursuing is to have a tech preview ready for Fedora 20. So what do we mean with a tech preview? Well there will be a quite a few things missing or maybe not working as expected. What we hope to have ready is a system where you can have the option of a Wayland session available in GDM, so that instead of logging into your normal X based session you log into one running Wayland instead. Once in that session you should be able to launch and run some applications, but stability is likely to not be great and we don’t know how well XWayland will work by then, so you will also likely having limited mileage with applications that still rely on X. The goal for the tech preview is not to create something an end user is likely to find very useful, rather it is about lowering the barrier for developers and contributors to get involved and start preparing for the Wayland future.

But we do think that it will at least be in a state where developers can easily start playing with it and where the community can help us find issues and bugs, so that we can reach our goal of having a full featured and stable GNOME running on Wayland ready for Fedora 21.

As a sidenote, our top priority is to make sure that the transition from X to Wayland becomes something an end users doesn’t really need to care about. So the final switch to Wayland over X will only happen once we are as sure as we can be that our users will not be negatively affected by the change. So if we default to Wayland or X for Fedora 21 is still an open question, we hope to default to Wayland of course, but staying with X as the default for one more release is not considered unreasonable if it will help us ensure a smooth transition experience for us users. We have of course also not forgotten that many of our users use the binary graphics drivers so we are working on making sure we have an answer ready for that going forward.

You can find details on the status of the tech preview if you go to this website.

31 thoughts on “Fedora Wayland update

  1. Thanks for the update! It’s so great to see cross-company collaboration in free software (and especially on the next generation windowing system). It’s a win for everyone!

    • We haven’t fully decided yet, but most likely outcome is that offer the Wayland packages as a downloadable extra and once they are installed you can choose the wayland session in GDM

      • How about a separate live-CD option? I can’t see myself installing the extra packages on my regular system, but if I can download a bootable image that’s *just* Wayland/XWayland (i.e no regular X server or drivers), it’d be interesting to try it out…

          • Haven’t used Fedora since Fedora 11. I was plagued with bugs and errors, and broken packages trying to run the latest Fedora. Hopefully you guys will take a look at the OS in general, because it is borked. Seriously! I’m not going to waste my time installing it on my production system again until you really go over Fedora with a fine tooth comb and get all the bugs out of it. Thanks!

            PS I used to love Fedora 11.

          • Well we have a process underway to review how we do Fedora as we do see that things are not as good as they should be currently. Hopefully that will help address your issues.

  2. well if they would not collaborate with intel ^^
    they would have to live with the consequences ^^

    so did ubuntu ;-)

  3. This is a nice update. I am not a Fedora user, but I have enough space on my btrfs filesystem that I can easily install it on a new subvol. So when this is made available, I will certainly be trying it out.

    I am also not a gnome user, but if the since the DEs in the front wayland race are gnome and enlightenment, I will definitely go gnome (I also think that gnome’s wayland development is much further along).

    Ultimately, I am hoping that some nice tiling window managers will quickly become available as wayland compositors.

    Nice work, thanks!

    • Thinking the same thing – some nice tiling managers and maybe some other creative lightweight shells. I’m excited for things to come on the Linux desktop, not to mention possible nice lightweight UI’s for more embedded type devices, all thanks to the good work on the graphics stack front. I imagine things will start to inspire further ideas and creativity.

  4. Well, I think that you only wasted your time and created false hope in your readers. Wayland is nowhere near ready, because of input problems.

    E.g. there is still no support for changing input parameters such as mouse cursor acceleration at runtime. There is no library that allows both Weston and Gnome Shell to gain improvements simultaneously – instead, the input code has to be copy-pasted. My patch for Weston that adds support for clickpads is now stalled, because it is too hacky to place into evdev-touchpad.c, but nobody knows the architecturally-correct place for this code.

    Please fix these issues upstream first, and only then talk about a tech preview. The “can’t use my touchpad” problem is a quite high barrier for new developers.

  5. thanks for writing this, it’s great to see a status update on wayland progress, as I was just wondering when we might start to see test-able wayland in Fedora over the weekend. cheers!

  6. What about KDE, what about possibility of having kwin compiled with the experimental wayland support ? What about xwayland?

    • We are currently just targeting GNOME with this effort, as you might imagine doing this takes a lot of work on many parts of the stack so we want to keep the todo list to a minimum. That said as we go forward we do expect to get more and more software Wayland ready, including KDE. As for XWayland as I said in my initial post, we are working on that, but we are not sure about the exact state of XWayland for this tech preview release. Our goal for this release is mostly to allow for instance applications developers to check and verify that their applications can work in a pure Wayland environment without the need for XWayland. But once we switch over to Wayland our goal is that a normal users should really need to know that we switched over, all X applications should just run just like before.

  7. I have no knowledge about this, but how do drivers figure into all of this ? Will wayland require drivers to support a new display server ? If yes, what GPUs are expected to be supported ?

    • This should run fine on the free AMD, NVidia and Intel drivers. Long term getting the proprietary drivers ported would be good, but for the tech preview the free drivers do a more than good enough job.

  8. How this will impact release schedule for Fedora 20? :) Nice to see you pushing Wayland, it is right time to do it imho. Good luck!

  9. Very Gd News … I dont know if this is a right time to demand an option that adds a Fedora Backup/restore session and if its not possible can you explain why … Gd luck in everything U still number one

    • Well there is backup functionality built into GNOME, you should get notifications asking you to configure backup. I think one of the big things we want to do long term though is switch to btrfs which would allow us to do seamless rollbacks. So lets for instance say that something breaks your system horribly you can just roll back to the state things where in yesterday.

  10. Well done! This is a very important technological step forward. I’m looking forward to enjoying all your hard work :)

  11. So Intel, red hat and gnome are working toghether now to push gnome shell under wayland onto all linux users sooner or later? How much does microsoft pay you for killing off desktop linux?

    • 72 Billion USD. We spent some of the money on buying a tropical island to retire to, but we are currently debating if we want to spend the rest on financing a relaunch of the Firefly tv series or buying the rights to Jar Jar Binks from Disney to ensure he never returns to the movie screen.

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